The Iranian-American human rights artist addresses the personal, cultural, and political in her flags, journals and photographs.
Sara Rahbar was Born in 1976 in Tehran Iran, but Left with her family during the revolution in the beginning of the Iran Iraq war. But having to escape her own country and leave her family behind, left a gap in her. It some how did not seem quit right to have to abandon her home because of a war and a revolution that had nothing to do with her. Through out the years she has killed off dealing with the confusion and anger left in her, and now through her work she is addressing it. she now lives and works between New York and Iran.
Rahbar went on to study fine art in London and design in new york. she has shown in various galleries all over America, and recently her work has been featured in the queens museum of art biennial where she was chosen out of 52 artists to be a teaching artist and to also do a second piece for the biennial, where she choose to do a room-sized installation on the subject of war in the Middle East.
She has been a teaching artist for various programs such as; Woman for Afghan Woman , as well as a professional development program for correctional educators at the queens museum of art. Rahbar’s art work has such an educational and healing presence, that is has been used for art therapy workshops, for severely disabled children at the Queens Museum of Art.
She has been an art director for the Persian Arts Festival, as well as a film Photographer and Production Coordinator for various films and projects, Rahbar has also been a freelance photographer in Iran for several years . Her work has been reviewed and praised in a multitude of prominent publications such as; The New York Times, BBC Persian, Time Out New York, Tehran Magazine, Namack, Radio Farda, Venuszine, Iranian, Persian Mirror, Queens Chronicle, Queens International 2006 Everything All at Once, Vol 3 Oct 2006, she has done collaborations with various prominent artists in iran and in new york, such as; Jaishri Abichandani ( their collaboration was shown at Ps1), as well as other artist such as Renzo Ortega and hosein Gourchian.
Here is what has been said about Rahbar’s work;
'Rahbar's Flag proclaims its political stance immediately.'
Shelley Walker, Artist and Writer,
Changing Climate,Changing Colors: 24 Contemporary Muslim Artists 2007
'Sara Rahbar's ambitions for her work are simularly to break down the delineations that divide communities. Rahbar was born in Tehran, Iran and escaped with her family to New York when the revolution began in 1979. After completing studies in art in London she returned to Iran to work on a documentary film on the youth culture of Iran, as well as to document the 2005 presidential elections. For Queens international, she has created a hyper-active specific installation consisting of collaged, culturally charged textiles, emotionally aggressive paintings and reveling photographs of Iranian youth, the presidential elections and other scenes from life in Tehran. The piece evokes the complex and tumultuous life in present-day Iran, countering the western media's one-dimensional portrayal of the country as filled with war-inciting Muslim extremists.
In many ways, Rahbar's work perfectly embodies the subtitle of this year's Queens International-Everything All at Once. Her work has no time for irony and seeks a larger purpose for art, one that isn't obsessed with failure and narcissistic death wishes that have become mannered in too much contemporary art. Instead, like many other artists in the exhibition, she uses her art to engage the audience in a dialog about our status as citizens in a very fragile world. It seems appropriate to end this essay in her words': ' I move the focus away from male and female, Muslim and Jewish, American and Iranian, and I look at a bigger picture. There was a time when I was constantly questioning me culture, religion, and my identity. I have finally come to the conclusion that the only thing I want to do is shed these titles that have created so much separation between us. We are all human beings attempting to survive ourselves, our lives, and each other. I don't believe in the boarders and separation created by the devotion toward a flag, a county, or a religion. My intention and my driving force is to focus on our similarities rather our differences.'
Queens State of Mind, The co-curator of Queens International 2006
“Sara Rahbar, an artist of roughly the same age says, 'I never considered myself an immigrant or a woman, only a human being...the only time I feel like a feminist, and remember that I am a woman is when I am in Iran. From the moment I wake up till the end of everyday...I am attempting to prove that I am strong...attempting to claim basic human rights, attempting to get the job done and moving mountains to do so. In America it does not even occur to me that I am a woman, I am independent, and feel that I can do anything a man can do.'
Reterritorializing Queens, The co-curator of Queens International 2006,
Director of public projects, founder of SWCC, the south Asian Woman's creative Collective,
and a practicing artist.
'Sara Rahbar’s work details the experience of being Iranian-American with a mash-up of U.S. references (the Stars and Stripes) and Iranian ones (textiles, for example), presented through collage, photographs and writing; '
TimeOut New York
“Queens International: Everything All at Once”. By Kate Lowenstein 2006
'Just inside the entrance, a collaborative installation, “Nobody’s Enemy,” recreates the look of a living room in a Middle East war zone, with walls pockmarked by shrapnel, and furniture and carpets covered with dusty grime
As in “Greater New York” and this year’s Whitney Biennial, war is not left unaddressed by artists like Ms. Rahbar, Andrew Hur, Renzo Ortega, Jiyun Park and the collective Still Present Past.'
New York Times Art & Design Art Review
Queens International 2006 Art From Everywhere, All From Queens By Martha Schwendener
I never considered myself an immigrant, an Iranian, an American, a woman, or even an artist. Only a human being seeking to survive, digest and understand, myself and the world around me and in this process possibly contributing something. I address current events in my work. I focus on injustices. Its about self dissection and self comprehension. I strongly believe that in the process of understanding one self, we begin to understand others and the world around us. I question what we